Monday, 13 October 2014

A Famosa, Melaka, Malaysia

The Famous - A Famosa!

A Famosa is a 16th century built fortress located in Malacca. It is one of most prominent photo spot of this historical city. Although the entire structure has been almost destroyed but a lone gate called 'Porta de Santiago' still stands tall reminding the days of Portuguese control over Melaka.
A Famosa
The original structure had capacity to hold entire Portuguese administration including hospitals, churches, captain's residence and an officers' quarters.  Mind you it's one of the only few existing European architecture still standing in this part of the world.

A bit of history, the Portuguese had control over Goa, India and Macau, China in 16th century. These ports were used for business purposes. En route was the Malacca port which became too famous for it's own good. Portuguese decided to take control of Malacca in their hands. Under the command of Alfonso they attacked the Malacca Sultanate which resulted in Portuguese control over Melaka. 
Graves at the back side of A Famosa
Once Malacca became the Portuguese controlled port they tried to save their win by constructing a fort named "A'Famosa". But their luck run out and fort could not save them from Dutch attack. The Dutch took over the control of the fort and threw Portuguese out of Melaka. Marking the end of Portuguese rule.

During Dutch rule which lasted more than a century many Dutch Style Buildings were constructed to represent their heritage. But they also lost their control over the fort to the Britishers. From 1826 on-wards, British East India company along with Singapore and Penang governed it, under the straits settlement administration in Calcutta, India
A Famous From The Back Side 
Later Britishers were the one who converted this fully constructed fort to a single gate by demolishing it's entire structure.

Seeing it's current condition it is really very hard to imagine that it used to be a defensive seaside fort. Today, this fort is just a lovely little place to pause and take some photos. Inside the remaining gate and on the way up the hill there are various signboards explaining the history of Melaka. You will find a cemetery upstairs of some note worthy person, I don't know whom :) At the end one can only say, that you don't often see a 500 years old fort ( OK, a 500 years old gate!). 

Hang-on this lady doesn't look that old!
It may not be in best condition but still a good posing spot. And mind you this single gate is the biggest contributor to Melaka's historical tag!

How To Go To A'Famosa Fort

Public transportation in Melaka is not at par with other cities like Kuala Lumpur. City buses  are really in very bad shape and taxi charges you hand and leg. if you bargain at front with taxi driver before getting into it might help. To some relief most of the tourist places are situated close by Christ Church, A Famosa is not exceptional. You should be able to walk to A Famosa if you happen to be somewhere near to Christ Church.

Happy travelling...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Wagah Border, Amritsar, India

A Ceremony Of Hatred!

Daily exactly at 5 PM, in middle of a town called "Wagah" divided into India and Pakistan, people gather in huge number on both sides to be part of a so called border closing 'ceremony'. It begins with cultural programs, people cheering for their respective countries and making you feel like you are part of a program which aims to bring people of these two countries together and then bang! Before you know anything it starts to heat up as soldiers from each of two countries stand head to head and staring each other down. 
Wagah Border*
Crowd starts to shout on their counterparts using all kind of 'respectful' words . The waves of the patriotism sounds in between is so fake that you can sense they want to continue with their 'on spot' invented abusive words for their counterpart than anything else. And soon you realize it is not a calm but tense border and this show off could be anything but a ceremony, you are in middle of a fucking mini war where instead of bullets coming to you are the words like 'teri maaki' 'teri bhanki'!

Police maintaining a sea of people heading towards main ceremony area 
It looks very interesting to be part of this daily stupidity but watch closing you will realize how much we hate each other as countries. Both praying for a dooms day scenario for each other day in and day out. And the icing on the cake is 'love child' born out this romantic relationship' and they named it 'Nuke!'.

That is the last thing you want to have in your counterpart arsenal when there is hell of hatred and mistrust between both countries. It's not only a bad situation for India and Pakistan rather entire south Asia is it at risk of getting nuked! Some people on both side takes this 'nuke' to next level saying "we will nuke this" and "we will nuke that" as if it's not a nuclear bomb but a balloon hanging in a birthday party and waiting to be exploded! Those people don't even understand the consequence of its devastating power. 

Border Security Force, India
Should you visit Wagah border? Hell yeah! You wont get to see such display of hatred any where else on this plant beside South and North Korean border. It's the closest you get to see the 'true' friendship of both countries and 'love' towards each other. And of course you see the land which was once INDIA but some people demanded their share for fighting during independence!

But few things to keep in mind before you decide to pack your bag, Most often or not it is very crowded so crowded that you need to watch your family so much that watching ceremony is more of a ritual waiting to be finished. 
Flag Lowering Ceremony*
Make sure you arrive very early if you are without VIP pass. If a cab driver is promising all kind of five star things, stay away! you will be cheated if you fell for it. I have learnt it hard way, only use VIP PASS! You can get the VIP pass from BSF station in Amritsar

How To Go To Wagah Border

Make sure you have booked taxi in advance for both sides else you may find it very difficult to get a taxi coming back to Amritsar from Wagah Border. We actually hired an auto paid him total around 700Rs and the guy took us to all the tourist places in and around Amritsar.

Happy travelling...

*Kindly note: Some of the images are not originally taken by me. And they are the copyright of their respective owners.